Scientists fear that ‘ZOMBIE’ deer disease could spread to HUMANS after the first case of a deadly brain virus that infects animals and does not fear humans was detected in Yellowstone National Park.

Scientists have warned that a virus called ‘Zombie deer disease’ could spread to humans after the first case was found in Yellowstone National Park last month.

The deadly brain virus, which confuses animals, drools, and is not afraid of people, may infect people, as some authorities have warned.

The alarm was raised after a deer carcass tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Yellowstone National Park in northwest Wyoming last November.

Dr. told The Guardian’s Cory Anderson: ‘The BSE (mad cow) outbreak in Britain provides an example of how, overnight, things can go awry if there is a spillover event, say, from livestock to of the people.’

In recent years, the virus has spread to more than 31 US states, two Canadian provinces and even South Korea, according to the US Geological Survey.

Scientists have warned that the virus, called ‘Zombie deer disease,’ could spread to humans. A biologist is pictured removing lymph nodes from deer to test them for chronic wasting disease

The alarm was raised after a deer carcass tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming last November.

The alarm was raised after a deer carcass tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming last November.

The carcass of the infected buck was tracked to a peninsula along the southern side of Yellowstone Lake, by a GPS collar fitted in March for a population dynamics study.

The carcass of the infected buck was tracked to a peninsula along the southern side of Yellowstone Lake, by a GPS collar fitted in March for a population dynamics study.

“We’re talking about the potential for something similar happening,” said Anderson, the program’s co-director at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

He added: ‘No one is saying it will definitely happen, but it is important for people to be prepared.’

According to Anderson, whose research focuses on CWD’s transmission pathways, the disease is ‘always fatal, incurable, and highly contagious,’ he said.

‘The worry is that we don’t have an effective quick way to eradicate it, neither from animals infected with it nor from the environment contaminated by it.’

CWD is a prion-transmitted disease, similar to ‘Mad Cow,’ that can cause weight loss, loss of coordination and other fatal neurological symptoms in deer and related species.

The US National Park Service said last month: ‘There is currently no evidence that CWD can infect humans or domestic animals.’

But the federal agency warns game hunters specifically, ‘it is recommended that tissues from animals infected with CWD not be consumed.’

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion-transmitted disease, similar to 'Mad Cow,' that can cause weight loss, loss of coordination and other fatal neurological symptoms in deer.  Above, a deer killed by CWD identified by Mississippi wildlife officials

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion-transmitted disease, similar to ‘Mad Cow,’ that can cause weight loss, loss of coordination and other fatal neurological symptoms in deer. Above, a deer killed by CWD identified by Mississippi wildlife officials

CWD has spread to more than 31 US states, two Canadian provinces and South Korea, according to the US Geological Survey

CWD has spread to more than 31 US states, two Canadian provinces and South Korea, according to the US Geological Survey

Samples from the bodies of infected mule deer tested positive for CWD in multiple rounds conducted at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s (WGFD)Wildlife Health Laboratory.

Common testing on live and dead animals involves sampling tissue from the animal’s nervous system, from the central nervous system, such as the spinal cord, or the peripheral system, such as the retropharyngeal lymph nodes and tonsils.

Studies have confirmed that the disease poses a risk to nonhuman primates including monkeys, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

‘These studies raise concerns that humans may also be at risk,’ the agency said. ‘Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to prevent the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain.’

Yellowstone park officials said they are working with the WGFD to monitor the park’s deer and other hooved species, dead and alive, to determine how far CWD has spread in the national park.

Yellowstone National Park officials said the discovery prompted them to renovate the park2021 CWD surveillance plan with a new protocol version expected next year.

CWD was first detected in mule deer in Wyoming in 1985 along the southeast region of the state.

CWD was first detected in mule deer in Wyoming in 1985 along the southeast region of the state.

The arrival of the disease in Yellowstone marks the end of a decade that has spread west across the state, reaching the national park location in the northwest corner of Wyoming.

The arrival of the disease in Yellowstone marks the end of a decade that has spread west across the state, reaching the national park location in the northwest corner of Wyoming.

Park spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said Yellowstone also plans to increase its collaborative efforts with the WGFD to determine which areas of the park are at increased risk of the disease.

CWD was first detected in mule deer in Wyoming in 1985 along the southeast region of the state.

The following year, the fatal brain disease was discovered in Wyoming elk, according to the WGFD.

The arrival of the disease in Yellowstone marks the end of a decade that has spread westward across the state, reaching the location of the national park in the northwest corner of Wyoming.

Wyoming game officials tracked the mule deer buck from March 2023 to October 2023, when its GPS tag indicated it likely died.

Their search for its body led them to a landmass between the south and southeast arms of Yellowstone Lake, known as the Promontory.

North of the park, Montana state wildlife regulators also assist in the effort and monitor game taken by local hunters in their state.

A spokeswoman for Region 3 of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Morgan Jacobsen, told the Daily Montanan that many cases of CWD have not been found in the state’s hunting districts bordering Yellowstone.

Jacobsen described the news as a ‘data point of interest,’ but not one that would radically change Montana’s own CWD surveillance plan.

“We will continue our monitoring and communication with the park and continue to work with hunters as the primary management tool for CWD in Montana,” Jacobsen said.

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